Identifying and nullifying threats to your home

There are a great number of variables which contribute to the security of your home.  As we seek to offer you a comprehensive guide to home security we will address them all here.  When you think about the security of your home, it is important to identify which threats you believe you are likely to face and measures you believe you will need to undertake to negate them.  Our guide approaches your home from the outside in, in the much the same way a burglar might, and works on home security in that order.  Therefore, we will talk about the neighbourhood your home is situated in, the perimeter of your property and its gardens, the external walls and entry points of your property, and finally the internal security of your property.  Once we have covered these concerns, we will tackle specific scenarios which homeowners may experience.  These include securing your home while you are away on holiday or business, and dealing with bogus salesmen looking to con or steal from you.  In this way, we will cover all aspects of home security.

Crime in your area: knowing what you are up against

Which types of crime are most prevalent in your area? What sorts of crime do you need to be mindful of when securing your home? In order to have a clear idea about what threats you are looking to deter an important area to research is crime statistics in your area.

TIP: Visit and search for crime that have happened in your area, use the information to better protect your home from future crime.

If you are looking to move into an area then these are all things which you should research before committing to buying a home.  If you already live in an  area, then these are things which you should know about in order to make sure you secure your property effectively against crime.

The police in your area will publish crime statistics in your area online, so you should be able to access fairly detailed crime statistics without much difficulty.  Ideally, everybody would like to live in area with very low rates of crime.  Unfortunately, this is not reality.  Therefore, gaining an understanding of crime in your area is an important first step in securing your home.  To effectively deter crime, you have to know what you are up against.

There may be a neighbourhood watch scheme you can get involved with, and speaking to police about your crime concerns can both alert them to problem areas and offer you reassurance that action will be taken to tackle any problems.

Obviously, basic measures such as locking windows and doors while you are out, represent security precautions that all homeowners should take.  However, when it comes to more advanced security options, such as investing in a professionally installed CCTV system for example, a good knowledge of the levels of crime in your area can help you assess suitability.  After all, it is better to tackle the threat of crime in a proportional manner, and to do that we need to know clearly what the threat is.

Approaching your home: perimeter and garden

Home security does not begin and end at the front and back doors of your home.  It begins at the perimeter of your property, and therefore may well encompass a driveway, a garden, a back yard, a garage or even outhouses depending upon the property that you live in.  If you live in a flat then this is less of a concern, although it is worth saying that the land surrounding the block of flats you live in can have important implications for their security.  The main emphasis here, whatever the property you live in, is that the land around it can impact significantly on the security of your home, and as such, you should implement measures to ensure that it does not entice burglars onto it.

Here we outline areas you need to consider when it comes to ensuring your land does not invite burglars onto it:

Guarding the perimeter of your property

While a 10 ft fence surrounding your home might be an effective way to keep burglars away, it is also a very good way to alienate your neighbours, make you home look like a prison and generally give off the impression that you are a little paranoid.

Luckily, there are other, much more appealing ways to increase security around the perimeter of your house.

  • Firstly, you should look to avoid having vast swathes of overgrown vegetation surrounding your house.  If you allow that then you are offering a perfect hiding place for a burglar.  We’re not saying that you shouldn’t have plants or bushes in your garden, but we are saying that you should keep them in check so that they don’t provide a dense foliage within which a burglar can hide.  A good way to deter burglars from hiding in or behind bushes is to invest in prickly bushes.  After all, nobody wants to climb through a thorn bush.
  • At the rear of your property it may be a good idea to have a sturdy wooden fence along the perimeter.  These are very common features for a lot of houses, and so allow you to secure the perimeter around the rear of your house without enraging your neighbours.  If there is a door built into the fence, as is the case in many properties with back yards, then ensure that the door can be securely locked, and make sure that it is locked when you are not out towards the rear of your property.  You also need to ensure that, if you have a wooden fence around your perimeter, it is kept in good condition.  Wooden fences can rot and become weak, so painting the fence may increase it longevity.  If your fence is beginning to rot then you need to replace those parts as a rotting fence is very weak and will not pose much of an obstacle to a burglar.
  • While it can help security to have a perimeter guarded by prickly hedges and wooden fences, they won’t prove particularly effective if the burglar can walk straight up the drive.  Therefore, investing in some gates to place at the end of your drive can boost security.  There are, of course, several options here.  gates placed at the end of a drive can vary greatly in terms of complexity.  For example, gates which are locked closed with an intercom system allowing them to be opened offer high levels of security but are also expensive.  However, there is no need to despair if you can’t afford the fanciest gates in town.  Burglars are opportunists and are looking for an easy win.  If you can position good quality gates, which are locked while you are out of the house, at the end of your drive then you are sending a message to burglars that you are not lax when it comes to security.  Good quality gates at the end of your driveway, coupled with a perimeter which offers burglars no easy hiding place and is secure around both the front and back of your property, does not offer opportunist burglars what they are looking for.  Consequently, they will be much more likely to move on in search of an easier target.

Past the perimeter: your garden and driveway

So, once you move past the perimeter of your property, what does your garden tell burglars about you.  Are you secure?  Or a good opportunity for a burglar to snatch an easy haul?  Here we outline the steps you can take to ensure burglars are not tempted to enter your grounds and the security measures you can take to stop burglars sneaking up on your house.

  • It may seem an obvious to entice burglars onto your property, but there is still a huge number of people who leave expensive toys and gardening equipment lying around in their gardens day and night.  Got an expensive bike you’ve left propped up against the wall of the house?  Easy pickings for a burglar.  What about the BBQ you left out over the weekend?  Leaving your garden littered with expensive equipment is a very bad idea if you want to keep burglars away, so do not do it.  Make sure your valuable garden equipment is stored away and out of sight.  Otherwise you are simply inviting burglars onto your grounds to pick up whatever they fancy and then leave.  From the perspective of a burglar, if you are careless about leaving expensive equipment in plain sight then you may well be careless with other aspects of your security.  Giving burglars the impression that your home is vulnerable is the last thing you want to do.
  • Gravel paths are security solution which are often overlooked but which, in truth, combine the ability to deter burglars and enhance the appearance of your gardens.  Walking on paths made of gravel or stones is virtually impossible to do quietly.  With every step you take the stones crunch loudly, alerting anyone nearby to your presence.  This is exactly what a burglar does not want.  So if you can install gravel paths, or areas of decorative gravel around your garden and house, then you are minimising the possibility that a burglar can approach your home or move around your garden without drawing attention to themselves.
  • Another important part of ensuring that the area around your house is secure is the instalment, where possible, of a gate to separate the front and back of the house.  As we outlined earlier, 60% of burglaries take place with burglars targeting the rear of a property.  Therefore, the installation of a secure gate is an important step as it means that intruders cannot easily access the rear of your property, and therefore could help reduce the likelihood of burglary significantly.  Ideally, any gate that you do install would be reasonably high, in order to avoid it being climbed easily, and would also be securely locked when not in use.

Garages, sheds and outhouses

A burglar doesn’t have to break into your main property to steal from you.  In fact, a burglar may view sneaking into your garage or garden shed as a less risky alternative to sneaking into your house.  As far as the burglar is concerned, the rewards of breaking into a garage may be equal to the rewards gained from entering your home, especially if they can see valuable equipment through a window.

  • So firstly, and fairly obviously, you should always ensure that your garage, outhouse or garden shed is locked.  Opportunist burglars wants to operate quickly and having to negotiate locked doors can stop them from doing so.
  • Secondly, you should ensure that valuable equipment is not easily visible through a garage window.  If a burglar can see a highly valuable prize then they are more likely to make a determined effort to break into your garage or shed, even if it is locked.  If they can’t see anything valuable then they will be far less likely to break in.  The 80% of opportunist burglars who target homes won’t want waste their time breaking into a building where there is no guarantee of reward.  Indeed, the same can be said of the 20% of burglars who are more professional in their approach.
  • Finally, if you do have outhouses or garages that contain a large amount of valuable equipment, and you are unsure whether it is possible to hide it all from being viewed through a window, then you may wish to consider a CCTV installation. We will discuss the option of CCTV in further detail later in this guide, but it is useful to introduce t at this stage as an effective means of securing buildings on your land.  There is nothing which a burglar likes to see less than a CCTV camera pointing straight at them, recording their every move.  A combination of CCTV cameras and signs are an extremely effective deterrent against crime and can offer your garage, shed or outhouse 24 hour protection.  Bearing in mind that the vast majority of burglars are looking for easy targets, CCTV represents a sure fire way to assure them that you are a security conscious individual and certainly not the easy target they are looking for.

Home security: external walls and entry points

Having thought about the securing the perimeter of your property and the land itself the next step is to secure the external walls of your house.  Of course, there is overlap here with garden and perimeter security. Fittings such as  security lights and CCTV, which are fitted on the external walls of a home, secure the main building itself but also provide security for the surrounding land.

NEXT: Home Security Lighting